Weekly Lessons - Episode 2

2 minute read

This week I’m going to talk about two lessons I’ve learned over the past few years as a software developer. Even though I have learned them in the software engineering relm I believe they apply to life in general and I have personally used them in my life outside the software world and they still hold true.

1. You Learn More By Doing

Early in my software engineering life I was very eager to learn new technologies and ways of doing things (I still am). In order to acquire this knowledge I would read blog posts, watch video tutorials and numerous talks by experts in the field. I would go back and ruminate on the stuff I had learned and hope it sticks in my head. To my frustration, a few days later when I try to apply the knowledge, I will discover that I don’t know as much as I thought I did and I would go back to the blog posts, tutorials and talks to do it all over again.

After a while I discovered that the best way to learn something is by doing it – getting your hands dirty. This was a great revelation that transformed the way I approach new things. Once I finish reading or watching tutorials I sit down and make up a fictitious problem that is slightly different from what’s in the tutorials and try to solve it. Chances are I will not solve the problem in the first attempt which is great :+1:.

I learn a lot more during the time when I will be failing to do something because I will be forced to dig deeper into the problem space than I would have had I just watched a tutorial or read a blog and walked away. This approch has worked wonders for me. In addition to learning something by doing it, I try to teach someone or just blog about it. They say when you teach something you learn it twice :wink:. So next time you see me write about something it’s not because I’m an expert but rather a novice who is trying to learn more.

2. There Is No Shame In Saying I Don't Know

It is in our nature as software sengineers, at least myself and those I have interacted with over the years, to want to know almost everything there is to know and become the best at something. This is not necessarily a bad thing but the challenge comes when one refuses to admit that they don’t know something. That, in my opinion, is a barrier to growth and learning as an individual.

I am very much aware of things I don’t know and never at any point do I pretend to know something I don’t, even if it means looking dumb in front of people. Why is it so important to acknowledge that you don’t know something, you may ask. I have discovered over the years that every time I openly admit my lack of experience or knowledge there is always someone who is willing to help me. Even though I might look dumb initially, I will walk away having learned something. Don’t let your ego get in the way of your personal growth. Fight it and openly say I don't know :smile:.